Jeff Merkley

Merkley’s Mild Town Hall in a Red County
Oregon Democrat talks health care to a receptive audience

Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkeley chat with constituents after a town hall in Dallas, Oregon, on Wednesday. (Nathan L. Gonzales/CQ Roll Call)

DALLAS, Ore. — With a divided country and two divided parties, town halls are supposed to be ground zero for angst, anger, and animosity, but not in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Donald Trump carried Polk County in the last presidential election but Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley found a largely sympathetic audience Wednesday at his town hall meeting here in its county seat.

Roughly 150 people gathered at the Oregon National Guard’s Col. James W. Nesmith Readiness Center on the outskirts of Dallas (population: 16,345, according to a sign when you enter town), to hear from one of their senators and enjoy the air conditioning on a sweltering afternoon.

Why Five Democrats Voted Against Confirming the New FBI Director
Reasons include Trump, ‘Bridgegate’ and warrantless surveillance

Sen. Elizabeth Warren was one of five Democrats to oppose confirmation of Christopher Wray as FBI director. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Five Senate Democrats who voted against Christopher Wray’s confirmation as FBI director had all offered reasons why by Wednesday afternoon.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren focused on questions about Wray’s independence from President Donald Trump.

How the ‘Skinny’ Repeal Bill Was Defeated, Play by Play
McCain casts knock-out vote alongside Murkowski and Collins

10:20 p.m. | Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell walks back to his office from the Senate floor. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate went into the wee hours of Friday morning to consider amendments to legislation most Republicans hoped would repeal parts of the 2010 health care law.

The health care effort was attached to a budget process known as reconciliation, which traditionally comes to a conclusion with an all-night vote-a-rama session on the Senate floor, in which members consider dozens of amendments.

Climate Change Activists Flood Capitol to Lobby Lawmakers
Merkley, Whitehouse and Fitzpatrick address concerned parents

Children join in as organizers set up a play area on the Upper Senate Lawn Thursday as part of the fourth annual “play in” demonstration on the Hill organized by Moms Clean Air Force. (Griffin Connolly/CQ Roll Call)

Climate change activists from all 50 states met with more than 150 lawmakers and staffers on Capitol Hill on Thursday, armed with personal anecdotes and data booklets to persuade members to take action on environmental issues such as air pollution and global warming.

The meetings were part of the fourth annual “play in” demonstration, organized by the anti-pollution advocacy group Moms Clean Air Force, which brought parents and their children to the Hill.

Word on the Hill: Learn How to Reduce Stress
Travel advice and play-in demonstration

On Tuesday, Washington commuters received a free banana from Amazon.com crew who were handing them out at Union Station to mark the online giant’s Prime Day. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

With Senate staffers getting a shorter August recess this year, the Senate Wellness Fair might be coming at a good time.

There will be demonstrations on stress-reducing breathing techniques, as well as posture improvement and acupuncture from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today in the Senate Hart Office Building, Room 902.

Senate Republicans Reject DeVos’ Proposed Education Cuts
‘The kinds of cuts that are proposed in this budget will not occur’

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos arrives to testify on the fiscal 2018 budget request for the Education Department on Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate appropriators told Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Tuesday that the Education Department’s budget request was dead on arrival in Congress, with Republicans and Democrats alike defending programs the department proposes to slash or eliminate in fiscal 2018.

At the Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee, DeVos also clarified remarks she made in the House last month. She pledged Tuesday to ensure that federal school choice programs would require schools to follow laws for students with disabilities. She didn’t commit to any protections not in federal law.

Oregon Delegation Speaks Out on Portland Attack, Denounces Hate
Wyden: 'My heart goes out' to families of 2 victims killed defending women believed to be Muslim

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said the stabbings on a Portland train "must sound the alarm louder than ever about the violence that follows hate speech." (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democratic Oregon Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley and Rep. Earl Blumenauer denounced the fatal stabbing of two men and injury of another that occurred on a commuter train in Portland on Friday. The Two men were killed, according to news reports, after trying to calm a self-proclaimed white supremacist from directing hate speech at two women who appeared to be Muslim.

The suspect, Jeremy Joseph Christian, was booked on Saturday morning in connection to the stabbing.

At Center for American Progress, a Tryout for 2020 Ideas
D.C. gathering alternates between liberal goals, Trump reaction

California Sen. Kamala Harris took aim at the administration’s approach to drug policy at Tuesday’s Center for American Progress gathering. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Potential Democratic presidential candidates took center stage Tuesday for what might prove to be the kickoff of the 2020 campaign, but the popular characterization of the progressive policy confab as a “CPAC for liberals” might have missed the mark.

The Center for American Progress’ 2017 Ideas Conference looked like the kind of muted 2020 cattle call one would expect from a gathering in the ballroom of the Georgetown Four Seasons in Washington. Missing were the raucous crowds that overtake the sprawling gathering at National Harbor for the annual Conservative Political Action Conference.

Post-Comey Senate Forecast Is Turbulent
Procedural roadblocks could set back legislative ambitions

Aides to Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer declined to comment on what steps Democrats planned to take should none of their demands on the Russia probe be met. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

BY JOE WILLIAMS AND NIELS LESNIEWSKI

A partisan standoff in the fallout of the firing of FBI Director James B. Comey could significantly stall the Senate legislative calendar, as Democrats appear ready to utilize procedural rules to coerce Republicans into acting on a number of demands.